Sixty students from hacker teams at 15 historically black colleges and universities got a jump start on their careers earlier this month at the BE SMART Hackathon in San Francisco, part of the Black Enterprise Tech ConneXt Summit.
The challenge? To develop an app for Toyota that makes the auto-buying experience easier, faster and more pleasant for customers.
Fifteen teams of sophomore, junior and senior students from HBCUs around the U.S. competed for a grand prize of $40,000 — $10,000 per team member. Each team included four experienced hackers.
The 15 teams were challenged to use their creativity and skills to develop a unique new program for BE SMART Hackathon sponsor Toyota. Teams were judged based on the viability of the program, its utility to individual users, and the efficacy of the technological platform. They were evaluated by judges that included Hahna Alexander, co-founder & CTO of SolePower L.L.C.; Chris Norwood, founder/executive director of Bay Area Tutoring; and Jerry Higgs, Ph.D., principal member of the technical staff for AT&T.
A cash prize of $40,000 was awarded to the winning team; Samsung Galaxy tablets to the second place team; and Chromebook laptops to the third-place team.
During the summit, students went on corporate tours hosted by Google and Intel as part of their participation in the Hackathon. The students were immersed in daily workshops centered around recruitment and career development.
Black Enterprise TechConneXt brings together leaders from Silicon Valley and the surrounding tech ecosystem to exchange ideas and provide information about jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities across all areas of technology.
Students worked with mentors from Toyota and Twilio. Their apps were judged for projected impact, innovation, and technical achievement, as well as the students’ ability to work as a team and on presentation skills.
These are the participating teams from 15 HBCUs, and the winner: